Chevrolet Invests $175 million In 2016 Camaro Plant
Chevrolet has announced an investment of $175 million to help produce the sixth-generation Camaro, adding new equipment, tooling, and jobs. Combined with other investments made over the last four weeks, the $175 million is part of a larger $5.4 billion investment GM pledged for US facilities late last month. The $5.4 will be spent over the course of the next three years, and so far, $2.8 billion has been spent.
Part of the investment incorporates new paint systems for Camaro-specific body colors, including Summit White, Bright Yellow, and Red Hot, plus two new robotic framers for better “dimensional control” and highly accurate production. Furthermore, a second production shift will resume later this summer at GM’s Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant in Michigan, accounting for the addition of some 500 jobs.
“I may be the luckiest mayor in America today,” said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero in a press release. “Gearing up for full-scale production of the legendary Chevy Camaro is a new high point in the more than two decades of extraordinary partnership between the City of Lansing, General Motors and the UAW.”
So far, $783.5 million of the $5.4 billion is slated for production facilities in Michigan. “General Motors is investing in Michigan – and Michiganders,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a press release. “Our state’s automotive heritage and expertise is known around the globe, and GM and its workforce are a major part of that. We’re going to continue to ensure the best environment for GM, the auto industry and all other industries to grow and thrive, creating more and better jobs. That includes connecting and developing the talent to keep the economic engine running at full speed long into our state’s bright future.”
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Why it matters
GM’s new investment will do well to bolster production of the Camaro, which has seen less-than-stellar sales performance recently, only moving 6,909 units in April. That’s far below the 13,144 Mustangs sold in the same month, but more than the 6,771 Challengers sold. However, with the announcement of the new sixth-gen Camaro just a few weeks ago, the fresh infusion of cash should coincide nicely with renewed demand.
The investments come amid a tempest of controversy for GM, which is under fire for a bungled recall of an ignition defect in multiple vehicles.
“With this investment in tooling and equipment, we will continue to do our part to build on the high-quality reputation of this iconic car,” said GM North American Manufacturing Manager Scott Whybrew in a press release. “These investments in the Lansing plants are proof of the teams’ quality commitment, to put the customer at the center of everything we do!”
The moves mirror those coming from FCA, which recently refurbished its Dodge Viper-producing Conner Avenue Assembly plant, also located in Detroit, as well announced its intentions to skip the traditional summer plant shutdown in order to produce as many cars and truck as possible. All told, autoworkers in Michigan will continue to be busy for some time into the foreseeable future.
“UAW members have proudly built vehicles in Lansing for more than 100 years,” said UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada. “As we help prepare for the launch of the all-new Camaro, we are pleased to continue our tradition of producing quality cars that we love to craft and build and our customers love to drive.”
GM also recently announced $1.2 billion for its Fort Wayne, Indiana assembly plant, which produces the light- and heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras, updating five major areas of the factory’s manufacturing capabilities.
So then, it seems like all good news for the US auto industry right?
Not so fast. The investments come amid a tempest of controversy for GM, which is under fire for a bungled recall of an ignition defect in multiple vehicles. So far, the defect has been blamed for the death of more than 100 people. While the automaker has managed to escape a class action fraud lawsuit, it may yet face criminal charges from prosecutors.
After the 2008 financial crisis and consequent taxpayer bailout of the company, GM struggled to cut costs and repair its image. This new investment is hopefully the start of a turnaround.
The 2016 Camaro was introduced on Detroit’s Belle Isle just a few weeks ago, and it comes with new exterior styling, a new powerplant, and boasts even higher levels of performance. Aesthetically, the new Camaro is an evolution of the previous model, with a reworked front fascia, new rear bumper and taillights. The engine options now include a turbocharged four-cylinder to take on the EcoBoost available from the new Mustang, the first factory four-banger option for the Camaro since 1992. However, most readers will be interested in the top-range 6.2-liter small block V-8 found in the Camaro SS, which produces 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque.
Read our full review here.